NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) — The jury on the Joseph Belstadt trial heard testimony showing he stopped going to school after Mandy Steingasser disappeared.
Belstadt is accused of killing 17-year-old Steingasser. She was last seen alive getting into his car on September 19, 1993.
Retired North Tonawanda High School attendance office secretary, Ruth Mahoney, testified to the accuracy of attendance records she kept in 1993.
She said they show Belstadt only went to school four times in the month following Steingasser’s disappearance.
She testified Belstadt didn’t come to school September 20, the day after Steingasser disappeared.
He returned October 6-8 and again October 19. She said that was the last time he went to school.
Mahoney testified he was dropped from the school’s rolls on November 18, 1993. She said the reasons were 20 days of consecutive absence and lack of interest.
Belstadt’s attorney, Michelle Bergevin, objected to the jury hearing the listed reasons for the absences, on the basis of them being hearsay. The judge ruled in her favor.
Bergevin asked if it would have been part of Mahoney’s duties to know Belstadt was only enrolled in two classes that year. Mahoney testified she didn’t know that information.
A friend of Belstadt’s from 1993 also testified. She said Belstadt came to her house the day they found Steingasser’s remains.
She said Belstadt had just picked up his boots from the police station and said he saw mud there.
She couldn’t recall Belstadt’s exact words, but said he told her something was going on regarding the search for Steingasser.
Kayla Green is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.